When I wrote my blog post about homeschooling our second daughter in “Take That System“, I promised to tell you about our oldest daughter in a later post. Many of you have asked….so, finally, here it is.
A Daunting Task
In the original blog post I told you how our second daughter’s academic struggles led us to take a leap of faith and homeschool. I should tell you how that leap came about too. That will have to be another blog post promised for later – again. But for now, we had different reasons for bringing our oldest daughter home. She was finishing her 9th grade year and making straight As. However, she was falling into the “wrong” crowd. Yes, they have those even in the best private Christian schools, which she was in. On top of that, her spiritual life primarily existed in Bible class. That was so to be surprising. My husband and I had only recently made God our first and only god. She was living by our example.
Now when I say she was a straight A student that does, by no means, imply that she was learning anything. But, boy, could she work the system. She would walk right up to the classroom door, pause before a test and look over the notes, go in and ace the test, and come out knowing nothing it was about!
She was not happy with our decision to homeschool her.
Okay, that’s an understatement! She was one extremely displeased camper with a whole host of negative emotions! Anger, resentment, confusion, fear, hurt, sadness…. She didn’t want to leave her friends and the system she was used to. She knew how to exist there and probably more than angry, she was afraid of the unknown and it came out as anger. I completely understood – I was frightened too!
We prayed for direction and guidance. How do we accomplish positive changes in only three years? We prayed. We researched. We prayed. We talked to others.
It seems, even today, everyone dreads homeschooling high school. Even those that have been homeschooling from the beginning are scared of it and often quit when they get there. People said to me then, “We’re terrified by high school. You’re just going to jump in and start there?”
“Yes. Yes I am.”
Maybe I was just naïve or just plain stupid, but high school seemed way less scary to me than teaching someone to read. I figured if they could read, they could learn anything. Wasn’t really much for me to do but point her in the right directions and let her go. And that’s pretty much what we did.
I confess – I was a bit terrified. It was daunting. I had thought that even though I was doing things differently for my younger daughter, this 10th grader would pretty much be getting the prescribed curriculum to check off the “required” boxes and do it. It didn’t take long to discover that even in high school learning and schooling are different.
Some Silver Lining
We finished up the 9th grade year at the private school and then spent the summer putting God at the top of our priorities and re-bonding our family. We made church and family devotions a regular part of our lives. We made the Bible our go to point for family decisions. The girls and I did a lot of lying on the trampoline and making shapes out of clouds that summer.
We took walks in the woods. We canned fruit. Nothing taste better than warm, fresh, muscadine jelly from berries you picked, washed, and cooked together. Did I mention we had a vineyard? Very fun! We had a good summer.
But…she was 16. She needed friends. New friends. Homeschool friends. She needed people that she could have commonality with. We helped her stay in touch with her private school friends, and some of those she is still friends with today – 15 years later. But right then, she needed friends in her new world circle.
To help her transition, we hoped to find ways to make homeschooling appealing by tapping her interest. She had interests that because of the confines of her school schedules and our work situations she couldn’t pursue. We looked for ways to change that now that the work and school obstacles were removed.
Choices and Actions!
That first year we learned to be okay starting things and then tossing them out and starting again. We began a chemistry course that blew our minds. We sold it! We started a math course (same one the school had used) – it was awful! We tossed it! By Thanksgiving we were wondering if we would have to do the entire 10th grade over. But once we settled on something, she moved fast. Not having to wait on a class allows your own pace and she moved through it with no troubles after we found the right fit. That was one of my great lessons learned as a homeschool mom! Even here, in the 10th grade, there is plenty of time for tossing out and starting again. If its not working, don’t continue to force it!! We learned quickly that the curriculum is our tool and to switch if that tool isn’t doing the job.
She didn’t realize it, but while all that bouncing around was happening, her dad and I were finding ways to help her experience the freedom and open opportunities homeschooling enjoyed. Looking for opportunities, we talked with other parents in our cover school.
There were a variety of skills and abilities there. We were engineers and brought math and science to the table. As providence would have it, one of the other families’ dads was a local law school professor. He needed help with math for his son. We needed help with government for our daughter. And a small group of life friendships were born.
We offered to teach math and he offered to teach government. Several other families wanted in and soon we had a little group of about 8-10 students taking these classes together.
One of the moms told us about a local co-op where you could sign up for individual subjects. This was great for me as I was terrified of high school English and literature!! Our daughter, on the other hand, loved Shakespeare and wasn’t allowed to read it at the private school as early or as much as she had wanted to. Here was a chance at that freedom we were watching for. We signed her up for the English lit course. (I was so relieved!) They read lots of Shakespeare. They even went to live Shakespeare plays. She started to open up to the new venture.
The Power of Learning for Your Own Benefit
So far we’ve got her in the Shakespeare she desired, and what could make government more fun for a high schooler than to take it from an actual law professor? They had the opportunity to go to the law school and see mock trials. Being a small group they did a lot of learning activities together and became closely associated. This group of kids are still friends.
We had two more major things that swung her over to homeschooling. One was a precious lady that came to the coop and taught Marine Biology. Our daughter loved marine life and wanted to be a marine biologist or veterinarian one day. She could not believe this class. They got to canoe down the Cahaba River and study river life. They even went for a few days to Dauphin Island Sea Lab and studied marine life in the Gulf of Mexico. This was such a great blessing!! This teacher only taught this course this one time in our city before she moved away. I’m convinced God brought her here just for our daughter.
Lastly – horses! Both our daughters had always wanted horses. We had never had the money for boarding or room for a barn/pasture. Well, when we moved to homeschool we made a point to find property where we could have horses. We signed her up for riding lessons and soon she had a horse of her own right in her own back yard.
Again, providentially, our neighbor raised show horses. Both the girls got jobs with her mucking stalls and caring for her horses. She also started working in vet offices. Since we were homeschooling she could work hours most kids couldn’t. Therefore, she was able to help with surgeries, not just cleaning cages, and everything in between.
Capitalizing on her own interests and learning and growing in them taught her the best thing there is about homeschooling. Learning is fun! Next great realization: Being productive is fulfilling.
All of this is actually how AskDrCallahan got started. After she (and her group of friends) finished high school, people kept asking us to teach high school math to their children. There were so many, we didn’t have time to teach them all. We decided to record my husband teaching math so they could have his help without it taking all of his time.
Our daughter worked with us to make these recordings and thereby helped pay for her college degree. You may have seen her on our DVDs, especially Algebra I.
Bottom line, we found opportunities for her to explore her interests that only homeschooling would allow. It made it fun and worthwhile and something she not only looked forward to, but also was grateful for.
We thank God that she had fun those 3 years, but mostly that she regained a love for real learning. The way He redeemed all those years I spent working away from them and they spent marching mindlessly to another’s drumbeat, in those three short years, only He understands. It was the absolute best three years!
She graduated from college with honors and is married, has two sons, (grandson #2 will be here in another month! I’m a little excited!) and is homeschooling. She married her college sweetheart, Tim.
I don’t know how the time has gone by so fast, but I do know that it has turned out well. God is so good to redeem the lost years.
We are so proud of our godly daughter and the wife and mother she has become.
She is also a social media specialist, literature expert, amazing artist, math scholar, and extremely creative. She is so gifted in making learning fun for others now. Often tutoring kids struggling in math, English, literature, science, or French and turning the learning into something fun they look forward to. Parent’s marvel that’s she’s able to help their children turn around from Ds to As.
Its beyond words for me to express the joy when she gives me a smile and big hug and says “Thank you, Mom, for homeschooling me.”